How Alcohol Affects Teenagers

During high school is when most teenagers and young adults begin experimenting with alcohol. Peer pressure and the overwhelming amount of exposure to alcohol at a young age leads teenagers to start drinking very early in their lives. At this same time in their lives is when their brains are still in the process of fully developing. The chemicals and effects of alcohol cause damage to teenagers’ bodies.

Alcohol is formed when yeast breaks down sugar without the presence of oxygen and is classified as a sedative hypnotic drug. Alcohol can depress the central nervous system or act as a stimulant. Intoxication can reduce bodily functions, reflexes, perception, and reaction time.

When alcohol is consumed it is absorbed into the bloodstream through capillaries and blood vessels and into the stomach and small intestine. From the stomach and small intestine, alcohol travels to the brain. Once it reaches the brain, bodily and nerve cell functions begin to slow down and reduce. The slowing down of function is also known as intoxication or being drunk.

Alcohol severely affects adolescent brains even more than adults, due to the fact that their brains are not fully developed. There is significant damage to the cerebral cortex due to the loss of cognitive function after the consumption of alcohol. In addition, excessive drinking has been proven to reduce memory retention in the hippocampus of the brain, causing short or long term memory loss. Damage to the cerebellum can also cause issues with balance and physical movement. Additionally, alcohol causes the decrease in body temperature, which is controlled by the medulla, and this can lead to hypothermia. Overall the excessive consumption of alcohol can kill numerous cells in each part of the brain, causing overall damage to several sections.

Alcohol also leads to more long term risks for teenagers than it does for adults. Those who start constantly drinking at a young age are more likely to experience health problems in their future than those who don’t drink. Studies have shown that those who begin drinking in their youth have trouble even completing simple daily tasks. In addition, it is also proven that 47% of kids who begin drinking eventually become alcoholics in their future, due to their dependence on alcohol from such a young age.

Not only does alcohol cause damage to the brain, but it also greatly damages the liver. The liver is responsible for filtering and getting rid of waste products in the body. After continuous alcohol consumption the liver becomes severely and irreparably damaged, which can lead to many different types of liver disease. For example in hepatocellular carcinoma caused by cirrhosis, the scar tissue develops a tumor inside the liver. This type of liver cancer can be treated with chemotherapy and radiation but is incurable. People have to remove part of their liver or get a liver transplant.

Overall, the consumption of alcohol causes many health problems in young adults and they should abstain from excessive drinking during their teenage years while their brains are developing.


About Mr. Mohn

Biology Teacher

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